World

Billie Jean King pulls out of Sochi delegation

Tennis legend and lesbian icon Billie Jean King will not attend the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony in Russia due to her mother's failing health. "It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother a...
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Putin says LGBT people welcome at Sochi Winter Olympic games

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the head of the International Olympic Committee Monday that gay people will be welcome at the 2014 Winter games in Sochi despite the country's anti-gay law passed earlier this year that has been the subject of calls for boycotts and severe criticism.

"We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation" Putin told Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), according to a report by Reuters.

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Anti-gay laws spark international debate over Olympics

Vladimir Putin

Despite international media scrutiny and criticism from foreign heads of state and hundreds of thousands of activists around the world, Russian officials won’t back down from the country’s controversial law banning gay “propaganda” — prompting calls for boycotts of everything from the 2014 Winter Olympics to vodkas associated with Russia.

Passed unanimously by Parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, the law is aimed at protecting minors from “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and is so vague critics fear it could criminalize simply being openly gay or expressing any support for LGBT equality.

The propaganda law, part of a rising tide of homophobia in Russia (see sidebar, “Russia’s attack on LGBT rights”), includes a clause specifically related to foreigners, who could face fines, 15 days of detainment and deportation. The clause raises questions about the impact on thousands of foreign athletes, staffers, media and fans expected to attend the upcoming Olympics, set for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis joins concern over Russia’s anti-gay laws, Olympics

john lewis

Outspoken LGBT rights ally John Lewis is the only member of Congress from Georgia to sign a letter calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the safety of LGBT Americans attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community," states the letter, led by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and signed by 83 members of Congress including Lewis (D-Ga.).